The Packers held on for a happy day at Lambeau Field, beating the Los Angeles Chargers in a nail-biter. Shades of last week hung over any pessimistic fan who watched this same Green Bay team miss an extra point and then watch the offense implode for a bitter loss just seven days ago.
But one week later the Packers had luck and good decision making on their side. Early on, the Green Bay sun shined brightly in the eyes of Charger receivers, forcing multiple drops, including a would-be touchdown that hit All Pro Keenan Allen in the chest. Late in the game the Lambeau turf, which claimed multiple players to injury, including a gruesome knee twist to Aaron Jones, helped cause Charger runner Austin Ekeler to slip as he headed towards the goal line.
While attempting to regain his balance, Ekeler was hit by Preston Smith on one side and Kenny Clark from the other. The result was a fumble at the two-yard line recovered by Rashan Gary. A game turning turnover produced by the defense.
Love passed for over 300 yards (27-40/322/2TD/108.5 rating) and statistically outplayed Justin Herbert. Love found multiple big throws in the middle of the field and also had good looking red zone reps.
His touchdown passes to Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs were perfectly placed. And he continued to go to his young receivers even after they made mistakes. Late in the second half Dontayvion Wicks dropped a sure first down pass and then ran a poor route in the next play, causing Love to throw an intentional grounding giving Wicks a few choice words as he walked to the sideline.
On the next Packer drive Love threw to Wicks again and the rookie made two plays that turned the game. First was a pass interference penalty he was able to display for the refs like a seasoned pro on 3rd and twenty, keeping the drive alive. Then two plays later Wicks produced a 35-yard highlight where the 5th round draft pick took a tremendous hit, kept his balance, turned and was off to the races.
Wick’s potential Lambeau Leap was snatched from him when the Charger’s Eric Kendricks tackled him around the ankles at the Charger 26. Romeo Doubs made a terrific catch on Love’s end zone pass for the official Lambeau Leap two plays later.
The Packer fourth quarter game winning, come from behind, drive had all of the 2023 Packers story summed up inside 6 plays. It started with a one-yard run followed by a strip-sack fumble recovered by the offense.
Then on third and three the pass interference call saved them on what would have been a miracle catch attempt by Wicks on a very low throw from Love. Once the Packers got the penalty break, Love was sharp with quick passes and good decisions. There is improvement, there is obvious talent on the field, but there is also a need to eliminate poor execution.
Accolades should be given to Kenny Clark who not only helped cause the key fumble, Clark also batted down the 4th down pass of Herbert to end the Chargers chances. The defense held running backs to 77 yards, struggling only with the scrambling of Herbert who gained 73 yards on 8 improvised runs.
Except for a bad tackle attempt by Jonathon Owens that gave up a long touchdown, the defense battled Los Angeles. With Valentine and Ballentine playing the corners and Owens and Anthony Johnson at safety, there is not a lot of experience in the defensive backfield. To hold a quarterback like Herbert to 20 points and a rating under 100 is commendable.
Karl Brooks continues to impress, adding another sack to his stats and Lukas Van Ness had two tackles where he showed good lateral movement. The young talent is starting to make plays and that bodes well for the future.
The struggles of Anders Carlson continue. If this ship isn’t righted soon, the Packers will be in the market for a kicking replacement after Christmas.
The real concern going forward is the injuries. Aaron Jones knee injury looked serious and his replacement, rookie Emanuel Wilson left the game with a shoulder injury as did De’Vondre Campbell. Deguara and Wicks also had injuries listed after the game.
Add Rudy Ford, Jaire Alexander and Bakhtiari and you possibly have 6 starters out and only one available running back. The Packers have a quick turnaround facing Detroit on Thanksgiving. A true test is coming for the holidays.